What Causes Diabetes?

Weight Loss, Physical Activity, and Quitting Smoking

Weighing in on Weight

Research has shown that decreasing calories, increasing physical activity and losing weight can lead to significant health improvements. Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight and being active for 30 minutes, five days per week can help you:

– lower blood glucose and A1C levels.

– lower blood pressure.

– lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and decrease triglycerides, the main part of fats and oils.

– decrease your need for diabetes, high blood pressure and blood lipid medications.

What’s a healthy weight for me?

A healthy weight for you should be one that supports the greatest degree of physical and emotional health. It is the weight at which you have the most energy and feel your best. And most important, it should be a weight that you can maintain realistically over the long term. It does little good to lose a great deal of weight, only to end up putting it all, or more, back on. Setting realistic goals for weight loss and maintenance is hard. But it’s an important step in achieving your weight goals and keeping the weight off. Be sure to speak with your health care provider to set the weight goal that is right for you.

Putting weight loss in its place

Research has shown that keeping blood glucose, blood pressure and blood fat (lipid) levels within your target range is what really matters most in staying healthy with diabetes. Weight loss is one of the most important tools to help you reach your goal of glucose, blood fat and blood pressure management. But losing weight is only part of the package.

Simply said, take steps to build a healthy lifestyle, such as increasing your physical activity and choosing to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These actions can improve blood glucose, blood pressure and heart health and can promote weight loss and maintenance.

Steps for success

Here are some tips from the National Weight Control Registry to help you on your way. The NWCR is a national database of information on 5,000 people who have lost weight and kept it off. On average, they have lost 60 pounds, and 16 percent have kept the weight off for more than 10 years.

– Keep on trying. More than 90 percent of people had lost and gained weight several times before successfully keeping the weight off.

– Change your eating and activity habits. Most people (89 percent) reported making significant changes in both eating and activity habits. Only 11 percent reported changing only eating or exercise habits.

– Consume fewer calories and fat. Women ate about 1,300 calories per day, and men ate 1,700 calories per day. Participants limited fat, ate about five times each day and had less than one meal per week in fast food restaurants.

– Physical activity. More than 80 percent of people who lost weight successfully burned 2,700 calories (women) to 3,500 calories (men) per week in exercise.

– Keep track. Most people monitored their weight and kept food and activity records. About half of all those who successfully lost weight still kept records two to six years after their initial weight loss.


Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD

Whether or not you have diabetes, smoking is the number one avoidable cause of death (in the US). Yet, nearly one out of every four American adults smokes.

Anyone who smokes for many years is at risk for lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, poor circulation and emphysema (trouble breathing). These problems occur because smoking cuts down on the amount of oxygen that reaches the tissues in your body. This lack of oxygen can cause steady damage to the body’s many organs and systems. Some research even suggests that smoking may add to the reasons a person gets type 2 diabetes in the first place.

People with diabetes are already at risk for all the smoking-related problems listed above. In addition, smoking when you have diabetes increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and poor circulation. Smoking also causes greater and faster damage to the blood vessels in the eyes, nerves and kidneys. These are the organs of the body that are often damaged from years of diabetes. That’s the bad news about smoking.

The “silver lining” to this cloud is that you can prevent smoking-related problems and even death by quitting smoking now (or not starting in the first place).

Another bit of good news: The health benefits of quitting smoking start right away and last forever. For example, just one year of not smoking cigarettes cuts the risk of heart disease in half.

Ways to Quit Smoking

If you’ve ever tried to quit smoking you know that it’s hard to do. That’s because when you smoke you become addicted to nicotine. In fact, most people have to try quitting a few times before they are able to quit for good.

There are many ways to quit smoking. Review these options. Also discuss your goal to quit smoking with your health care provider. Get his or her advice about the best way for you to quit. Then figure out what method or methods you believe will work for you.

  • Quit smoking groups: Find a local group at the place you work, a local hospital or a local office of the heart, lung or cancer association.
  • Quit smoking with a national program: Check out online internet programs or telephone hotlines. Search on the internet for “smoking cessation.”
  • Use a smoking cessation medicine
  • Work with a counselor: You might want to find a counselor to work with who helps people quit smoking. This person can help you learn to avoid behaviors and activities that trigger smoking. He or she might also use hypnosis or acupuncture to help lessen the craving to smoke.

Finally, hold on to this thought: Quitting smoking is one of the most important actions you can take to become and stay more healthy.

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Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN—an award-winning RD, certified diabetes educator, and past national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes, which received the Favorably Reviewed designation from the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes.

Dr. Lori Shemek, PhD, CNC, CLC, the best-selling author of “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn! and leading health and weight loss expert, is also known as “The Inflammation Terminator.” She has made it her mission to educate the public on the toxic effects of certain foods and lifestyle choices and how they create inflammation in the body. She is a leading authority on inflammation and its role in weight loss, preventing disease and optimizing health.

Rebecca Bitzer – MS, RD/LD, CEDRD is an award-winning Registered Dietitian, writer, speaker, blogger, and REBEL Dietitian business owner. Rebecca and her team of six Registered Dietitians have counseled thousands of clients struggling with diabetes for over twenty-five years. They work closely with each other along with internists, endocrinologists, therapists, and families.

Maureen Sullivan – RN, CDE has worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, most of them in emergency and trauma services. She is a Certified Emergency Nurse, Certified Diabetes Educator, and the former manager of a hospital stroke program. Maureen’s wealth of knowledge, passion for nursing and education, and ability to engage people makes her an excellent teacher and a captivating lecturer. Recently, Maureen has been concentrating on writing, speaking and teaching, as well as working on her award-winning weekly podcast, “The Health and Humor Show.”

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN is a nutrition communications specialist, registered dietitian in private practice, social media consultant, speaker, spokesperson and corporate consultant. She is currently the owner of Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC and www.NutritionStarringYOU.com. Lauren strongly believes that we should “Think Healthy, not Skinny”, and “EveryBODY is unique, your diet should be too”. Lauren was co-host of the Family Food Experts Kitchen radio show, available for listening on iHeart Radio and iTunes. Also known as one of the “NutritionBabes”, Lauren co-founded NutritionBabes.com, a popular Health and Wellness website in 2009. NutritionBabes.com was voted one of Healthline’s Top 100 Health Blogs in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Mark Heyman, PhD, CDE is a clinical health psychologist and the director of the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health (CDMH). In addition to treating patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Heyman provides training for health care providers on how to identify and address the emotional and behavioral aspects of diabetes in their patients. He also works with pharmaceutical and medical device companies to help them understand these issues and incorporate this information into their sales, marketing, and patient education materials. He is particularly interested in empirically supported behavioral interventions that promote behavior change and improve physical and mental health in people with diabetes.

Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and author with an expertise in nutrition communications and curriculum development. She is the co-author of “Diet Therapy in Advanced Practice Nursing” (McGraw Hill, 2014) and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition at the University of California San Francisco and University of San Diego’s graduate schools of nursing.

Dr. Beverly S. Adler, PhD, CDE (aka “Dr. Bev”) is a clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator, author and speaker. She specializes treating the emotional issues of people with diabetes. In her private practice, she provides individual, family and/or group therapy utilizing a cognitive behavior therapy orientation, combined with a spiritual approach. Her goal is to empower her patients to manage their diabetes.

Dr. Bev is the author of two self-help diabetes books. She has written numerous articles which are published in print and online – always focused on diabetes from the emotional perspective. She also speaks to audiences of people living with diabetes, as well as, to audiences of healthcare professionals and diabetes educators. Dr. Bev, herself, has been living successfully with type 1 diabetes for 40+ years.

In August 2016, Dr. Bev was honored to receive the “CDE Entrepreneur of the Year” Award from her Metropolitan NY Association of Diabetes Educators.

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND is an internationally recognized nutrition and diabetes expert with more than two decades experience. Through writing, speaking and one-on-one coaching, Jill empowers people to grab control of their health. She has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is known for her practical approach and caring attitude. Her no-nonsense strategies to eating well include foods that both taste good and are good for you.

Marlene Koch (pronounced ‘cook’) is a nationally recognized nutritionist, popular TV personality and New York Times bestselling author. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science. She is a registered dietitian and one of a select group of dietitians to hold an advanced certificate in Child and Adolescent Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Marlene has taught professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation the principles of healthy cooking and eating. She has been adjunct Nutrition professor and cooking instructor for Columbus State College and the Columbus State Culinary Academy, and she is a nationally recognized expert in weight loss, diabetes, child and adolescent nutrition, and sugar substitutes.

Marlene has sold over one million cookbooks, and is a regular guest on QVC.

Barbara Ruhs – MS, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Neighborhood Nutrition LLC, a consulting firm focused on providing solutions to help food companies and supermarkets improve consumer health & wellness. She’s a former supermarket dietitian and has run a successful business for 17 years. A leader in the field of nutrition, her mission is to help people by impacting the way food is produced, marketed and sold. She’s a strong advocate for supermarket dietitians and believes the retail food industry has the greatest potential to impact public health.

Cheryl Orlansky has over 25 years of experience in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and management. Her first career as a registered dental hygienist led her towards a path of wellness and nutrition! Her expertise is in diabetes, weight management and cardiovascular disease for individuals and groups. She works in a large private practice including endocrinology, internal medicine, rheumatology, neurology and sleep medicine. She is an award winning dietitian with current leadership positions in state and local dietetics organizations.

She has been interviewed and quoted in media outlets for WebMD, Atlanta Sports and Fitness, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. She has partnered with V-103 Radio to lead supermarket tours as part of a community outreach during National Nutrition Month.

Cheryl helps her clients reach balance through lifestyle choices: cooking and eating, activity and purpose in life.

Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and classically-trained chef. With a passion for helping people (including her father) with diabetes, she’s author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook: The Flexible Approach to Flavorful Diabetes Cooking and the award-winning The All‐Natural Diabetes Cookbook, both published by the American Diabetes Association. Jackie is also author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes and Big Green Cookbook. Her next book, The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook—2nd Edition, was published in 2015.

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet. She holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is also a Wellcoaches Certified Health and Wellness Coach endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

OmnichannelHealth Media, publisher of DiabetesDigest.com, does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.